Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Biggest Comebacks: Tedy Bruschi returns to Patriots 8 months after stroke

Krystle Boyajian
September 13, 2018 - 11:23 am

Just a couple weeks after winning his third Super Bowl and a few days after playing in his first Pro Bowl, Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi suffered a stroke in February 2005. 

In the early morning of Feb. 15, Bruschi woke up with numbness on his left side and a headache. But being only 31 years old, he didn’t think that he might be having a stroke and went back to bed. His condition kept getting worse, however, culminating in an intense headache and blurry vision before he finally went to the hospital. 

When he arrived at the the hospital, doctors found a small hole in his heart from an unknown birth defect caused the stroke. After the hole was repaired the next month, Bruschi had to learn how to walk and talk again. His goal in physical therapy was never to return to the NFL, but to return to normal everyday life with his family. 

During rehab, Bruschi decided that re-joining the NFL was his ultimate goal, although the decision was made that he would sit out the entire 2005 season. But, after just a few months of rehab, he started to believe that he would be able to make his comeback during the 2005 season. 

On Oct. 30, 2005, just over eight months after his stroke, Bruschi completed his remarkable comeback to the Patriots and the NFL in a 21-16 win over the Bills. Not only did Bruschi play, but he started the game and made 10 tackles. 

That week, he was named the AFC defensive player of the week for the impressive comeback performance. 

Bruschi went on to play as an impact player in all but two games, which he missed due to a calf injury. While the Patriots didn’t go on to win the Super Bowl that year, Bruschi tied with Steve Smith Sr. for the NFL Comeback Player of the Year for the 2005 season.

Bruschi went onto make 366 tackles with the Patriots in his post-stroke seasons. In August 2009, after 13 seasons with the Patriots, he decided to retire at age 36, four years after he made his miraculous comeback.


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